Phil Hughes looked pretty solid in his Spring debut, yesterday. 2 innings of no hit, no run ball is nice. 90-92 on his fastball, for the first outing of the year is nice. Working hitters inside for a change is nice (despite nicking a couple guys). His curve didn’t have the nasty bite it had at the end of last year, but it was nice.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is… well… his change. Granted, the kid is still only 22, but that is the pitch that many pundits point to as the key to his becoming an ace or just a pretty good pitcher, and he’s been working on it for the last two years now with, uh, no change.
Obama may have won the election by calling for change, but Jorge Posada ain’t winning nothin’ if he calls for that change from Phil. Yes, the kid is absurdly young and could still develop that pitch, but it’s very odd that Hughes learned a curve in a month and made it his best pitch. He learned a cutter during a couple weeks of a rehab assignment and it was good enough to get out major leaguers within two months.
The first change he threw yesterday literally made me go, “What the heck was that?!” out loud. You could see a complete change in his motion about a second or 2 before he even released the ball.
I don’t know if it’s lousy instruction, or if it’s just not a pitch which fits into Phil’s motion, but it may be time to either get him a new coach for that pitch or scrap it entirely. Yes, I know he’s young, but he seems to either pick things up quickly or not at all. Maybe they should focus on something else for a second off speed pitch: how about the circle change, the knuckle ball, hey, let’s get Dave LaRoche out here and teach him the Eephus! Anything but that change. Change is bad. The ancient Chinese were reputed to curse people with change. Well, I think Phil’s change is cursed.